April Issue 2000
Jennifer Lynn Smith's Twilight at the Wells Gallery in Charleston, SC
Lowcountry artist Jennifer Lynn Smith constantly views her surroundings as "paintings, selecting and simplifying elements in order to compose images." Her latest series of works, Twilight, on display beginning Apr. 21 at the Wells Gallery in Charleston, SC, offers a rare glimpse at the way Smith sees the world. The exhibit will continue to be on view through May 5.
A twenty-seven-year-old Charleston native, Smith's newest exhibit features nearly two dozen works that weave together the themes of architecture and light, portraying a near symbiotic relationship between the two.
"As far as what inspires me to paint, a lot of it is the light and the way it interacts with the landscape," she says. "That golden warm light is what I love to paint, and that is what this series is all about." Just as this series centers on light and architecture, Smith's life has always revolved around art. Raised in a household of artists, her mother, Betty Anglin Smith, and her sister, Shannon Smith, are also highly-regarded painters, and her brother, Tripp Smith, is an accomplished photographer. "I have grown up with a love for art," explains Smith, who received a BFA from Clemson University in 1994.
Though she began her career early this decade, Smith is well on her way to carving out a name for herself in the annals of up-and-coming southern artists. Over the years her works have been featured in galleries all along the Eastern Seaboard, from Charleston to Martha's Vineyard. In addition, many of her works now hang in prominent corporate and private collections, including Walt Disney World, the Medical University of South Carolina and Ethyl Corp. in Richmond, VA.
Pushing aside the enormous pressures associated with the artworld, Smith takes her success in stride, continually diving into her passion for painting. While she has painted in locations ranging from New Mexico to Italy, she finds herself drawn back to the familiarity of the Lowcountry. Even more particular, she finds herself drawn to the late afternoons and early evenings, when the colors are most dramatic. "I am fascinated with the fleeting light at days' end because its drama and color changes so quickly," she says. "It is the most dramatic time of day because you get the highest contrast between light and dark. It is also interesting to go out at night and see the natural light of the moon, the artificial lights of the storefronts, lanterns and streetlights. And to see how they illuminate the buildings and store front windows."
Architecture frequently serves as a springboard for Smith, providing her a focal point for each of her paintings. "Architecture provides a form set in a landscape," she says. "It provides an object to reflect light onto, and I like having man-made objects juxtaposed with natural ones."
Smith's bold, thick brushstrokes create a sense of urgency and immediacy to her work as though she is fighting against time to capture each second of light before it fades. Combining this with her use of vibrant, warm colors, she expertly portrays more than just the landscape, but the mood of a place as well. Whether rooftop views of Charleston, vacant store front windows illuminated by the headlights of moving cars or desolate windswept beaches at sunset, Smith's work calls out to the viewer taking them by the hand and invite them in with the promise of a moment's rest in the forgotten corners of the world that Smith recreates on each of her canvases. "I just want the viewer to get a sense of being there, and feeling the light or the breezes," she concludes.
Images from the exhibit will be posted on The Wells Gallery's website after Apr. 21, at (http://www.wellsgallery.com).
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